Philippines steps up bid to drive Isis-linked group from Marawi

gu2

The Philippines military has mobilised attack helicopters and special forces to drive Islamic State-linked rebels out of a besieged southern city. Six soldiers have so far been killed in street combat amid the heavy resistance that has followed.

Ground troops hid behind walls and armoured vehicles and exchanged volleys of gunfire with Maute group fighters, shooting into elevated positions occupied by militants, who have held the city of Marawi on Mindanao island for two days.

Helicopters circled the city, peppering Maute positions with machine-gun fire to try to force them from a bridge vital to retaking Marawi, a mainly Muslim city of 200,000 where fighters have taken more than a dozen hostages and burned down and seized a school, a jail and a cathedral.

“Our troops are doing deliberate operations in areas we believe are still occupied or infested with the terrorist presence,” said the head of the task force, Brigadier General Rolly Bautista.

The battles with the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, started on Tuesday during a failed raid by security forces on one of the group’s hideouts that spiralled into chaos. Eighteen rebels were killed on Thursday, the army said…

Read more : The Guardian, 25.05.2017